Too many young have fallen between cracks
I paid with lots of silver coins because I know the owner is always looking for change. I also received some paper notes from him in exchange for my coins. I now know what it feels like to be cash-strapped.
When I left the shop, which is just a zinc roof covering over a cement floor, a person in his late thirties wearing a hoodie and posing as a car guard called out my name.
“Mr Brian Isaacs!”
I said: “Yes! How do you know me?”
He said: “Sir, I’m Gareth Swartz, I walked past the Lansdowne Tennis Court in the 80s and you called me to come on to the court. You said: ‘My boy, you look as if you can play tennis.’ You showed me how to grip a tennis racquet and the rest is history. I represented Western Province Tennis Union (under Sacos - SA Council on Sport) in the 1980s.”
Gareth had fallen on hard times.
My thoughts went out to the present youth. How many of the youth at this time in the history of South Africa have not fallen by the wayside already at a primary and a high school level.
Before lockdown, the health of education in SA was looking very dismal. Education for the masses has been horribly neglected for centuries. There are not enough high schools to accommodate the students coming from primary schools.
Most schools (primary and high) need major repairs, science facilities and well-serviced sports fields are lacking.
Few students are doing subjects like accounting, mathematics, advanced programming mathematics and physical sciences.
There has been a perception created during the colonial days that the indigenous people could not do these subjects. This brainwashing exists to this very day in the schools of the poor.
Students start believing that they are not capable of mastering these subjects. There was a recent controversial article by UCT Professor Nicoli Nattrass, “Why are black South African students less likely to consider studying biological sciences?”
She postulates what I think is an unsubstantiated and ludicrous claim that it is because of the materialism and culture of black South Africans. What rubbish from an academic.
The coronavirus issue has made the majority of parents, teachers and students more aware of the dismal state of education in our country.
The fact that private schools and Model-C schools can navigate themselves through the necessary safety precautions is exactly because their wealth and facilities allow them to meet these measures. An image being promoted by these privileged schools is that if they can cope, why not others.
When the National Party came into power in 1948, it categorically denied the majority of people in SA a quality education. They were considered second-class citizens. It was an uphill battle for the majority of South Africans to educate their children. Many children were made to believe that we must have liberation before education.
In 1994, a negotiated settlement was reached where the majority gained political freedom but economic freedom was still being enjoyed by the former oppressors as is the case to this very day.
Those in power today have an opportunity to listen to the cries of the masses during these Covid-19 times.
To regain the confidence of the people the SA government must instil confidence in the lives of the people. It must deliver to the people proper housing, hospitals and good healthcare, quality schooling, jobs with a living wage and recreation time. Not to do so immediately is going to exacerbate the crisis in our country.
Going back to where I started.
We all have talent and it is the duty of all to harness the talent of South Africans.
Gareth, like so many South Africans, has talent and we must nurture this talent in our young people to give them the best and prevent them from falling through the cracks.
We should all commit to assist the youth of SA to make them successful citizens. The youth of today, you have a future in SA. We, as the elders, must take the hands of the youth and walk beside them.
* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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